Oct20

Do we need a healthcare awards show?

Health_AwardsWith all but one or two award shows done and dusted for the year, I can honestly say that I have been delighted to see the standard of creativity in healthcare grow from strength to strength. It’s been inspiring, but at the same time it’s been frustrating.

Recently I judged at one of the major healthcare award shows along with some of the industry’s best—people I respect deeply.

We had some interesting conversations around a few of the entries. The main discussion point being, is this really health?

Saving dogs, a hashtag for mums about how amazing their child is, helping hungry people or recruiting medical staff for the armed forces—for me seems broader than health or not even health at all.

We did discuss the fact that it lifted the game in terms of thinking and execution, but it was acting as a guide stick of where we need to be rather than being a true health entry.

But do these types of entries make the interactive visual aid that has been under the red pen of medical advisors feel boring? Does it make the print ad idea that has made it through the treacherous journey of a pharmaceutical marketing department and research group feel flat? Does it make the medical education program that the regulatory body has scrutinised to the inch of its life look dull?
The answer is yes.

There is no place for pharmaceutical work in a current healthcare awards show. If it isn’t bringing you on the brink of tears or changing the world as we know it, it won’t get a real look in. It will be blindsided.

So should we have a healthcare awards show? Why not simply have a health category in the mainstream shows?

Think we know the answer to that one.

The bigger question is (and part of the reason why award shows were there in the first place), how are we going to lift pharmaceutical communications to a better standard? How are we going to inspire true healthcare agencies that live and breathe health every day?

I believe they deserve to be judged in a very different way.
The idea and great execution, without a doubt should be there. But pharmaceutical communications goes deeper than that. It’s the strategy that creatively and intelligently weaves its way through the minefield of regulations and treatment indications. The medical writing that’s taken highly scientific information and made it code-compliant yet highly persuasive to a cynical physician.

So with all this in mind, I believe we do need an awards show for healthcare, but it has to be very different from the shows we currently have. They are mostly celebrating work that’s for the good of man (or animal) kind and I believe you could tack anything to that and call it health.

Pharma is a weird and wonderful world and a very specialised one, so when it comes to judging creativity, should it not be seen through a slightly different lens?

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

Also posted in advertising, agency life, awards, behavior change, Branding, Clients, Creativity, Culture, Design, Great Ideas, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Innovate, Marketing, Media, Medical Education, Pharmaceutical, Physician Communications, Strategy | Comments closed
Aug5

Immunotherapy: Has the Answer to Cancer Been Inside Us All Along?

Immunology Blog Image EDThis year over 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and nearly 600,000 people will die from the disease. That’s over 1600 people each day. The need for innovative therapeutic approaches to treat cancer has never been higher. To help fight the tumor, oncologists are literally looking within at new immunotherapeutic approaches aimed at unleashing the body’s own natural defenses.

The idea of immunotherapy isn’t a new one. Since the first studies of antibodies began in 1891, researchers have continued to investigate the potential of the immune system. But the idea held little more than promise.

But all that has changed.

Numerous breakthrough advancements in immunotherapy, with unprecedented results, have propelled the entire class forward. At this year’s Annual Meeting of the American Society of Oncology (ASCO), immunotherapy took front and center. Thousands upon thousands of oncologists crammed the educational sessions for just a glimpse of some of the new data being presented, CNN ran headline news stories from the congress, and even patients are aware and asking their physicians about the new therapies being researched.

Across the board, the pharmaceutical industry has started to mobilize behind the potential of immunotherapy unlike anything else seen before. Most of the major pharmaceutical companies already have one or more new drug candidates in development—and if they don’t, they are aggressively exploring opportunities to catch up.

Over 800 Clinical Trials With Immunotherapy Products
At present there are 844 ongoing or completed clinical trials with immunotherapy drugs across a wide range of tumor types. These trials include some of the most challenging cancers associated with the worst prognoses, like lung, stomach, brain, and melanoma. And new trials with new products and new regimens are added almost daily.

$35 Billion in Projected Sales
Analysts believe that annual sales for immunotherapy products in oncology will reach $35 billion a year.

60% of Cancers Will be Treated With Immunotherapy

Researchers believe that immunotherapy may become the dominant form of treatment in oncology, with nearly two out of every three cancer patients receiving some form of immuno-based therapy within the next decade.

While these numbers are staggering, the greatest benefit may be for the patients diagnosed with cancer. The early results from the emerging next-generation immunotherapy agents have rightfully captured the hopes of both patients and oncologists. With continued research and a little luck, these treatments may provide more than a treatment for a cancer, they may offer a cure.

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

Also posted in clinical trials, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Medical Education, Pharmaceutical, Physician Communications, Strategy | Tagged , | Comments closed
Jun11

The Next Phase of Pharmaceutical Value Propositions Needs to Include the Real Meaning of Synergy

Synergy Blog ImageExpress Scripts recently issued a report on drug spending that made some headlines in the business press.[1,2] This compelling report shows that, from the perspective of a pharmacy benefit manager (and its pharmacy claims database), evidence confirms the trends of increased drug spending, particularly in the subset of patients that consumes at least $100,000 worth of drugs annually:

• The population of patients that takes at least $100,000 worth of drugs has almost tripled from 2013 to 2014
• Compounded drugs were the 3rd highest driver of the trend, behind HCV antivirals and oncolytics
• 9 out of 10 patients with drug costs over $50,0000 used specialty medications
• Men and baby boomers (those aged 51-70) make up the majority of those with high drug costs
• Comorbidities and polypharmacy were prevalent among patients with high drug costs

Glenn Stettin, MD, the SVP of Clinical, Research, and New Solutions, outlines in this report implications and recommendations, most of which are feasible for a PBM to consider:

• Eliminate wasteful spending and improve medication adherence
• Manage specialty and traditional medications together
• Pioneer new approaches in cancer care that both offers patient access and sustains payer affordability

While these are important recommendations, there is an opportunity for pharmaceutical manufacturers to consider extending and enhancing the value propositions of their drugs, and it relates to the “comorbidities and polypharmacy” finding in this report, which is pretty remarkable. The report shows that:

• Among patients whose drug costs reached $100,000, more than one-third were treated for more than 10 conditions
• More than 60% were taking more than 10 medications
• One in four patients had prescriptions from at least 4 different prescribers
• More than half of patients with $100,000 in drug costs were prescribed medications by physicians from at least 4 difference specialty areas

Now, as we read daily in the business press, the drug industry is facing pushback about its pricing of newer agents (specifically HCV antivirals and oncolytics). This resistance from customers is normal, and has taken various forms of stricter precertifications and/or formulary requirements.[3] Recently, legal patent challenges have surfaced; in some countries, various advocates are asking that patents on drugs be voided, so that generic competitors can appear earlier.[4] Nonetheless, evolving industry forces, such as comparative effectiveness research, constrained health care budgets of some payers, and new competitors have started to create a new equilibrium between sellers and buyers, and these forces are helping to more quickly vet winners and losers. It is encouraging to see the manufacturers (particularly of HCV and cancer drugs) refine the value propositions of their drugs, which now include cures for some patients.[3]

But disease is multifactorial (and, as the ESI report shows, multiple diseases are, too), and treatments often need multiple approaches. Manufacturers may need to extend the current value proposition of “one drug that treats one disease at one time” and add it to the complicated heath care mix that includes other variables, for example:

• Combination therapies (with other drugs, including competitors and/or generics, and with other modalities such as devices, diet, surgery, etc.)
• Timing or sequence of treatments (ie, phase of the disease)
• All of the factors in “care coordination” (ie, different physicians, different specialties, different settings)

In other words, manufacturers need to demonstrate the synergy produced by their drugs. “Synergy” is often misused, but I like the Merriam-Webster definition of synergy as “a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements (as resources or efforts).”[5] Certainly some treatment guidelines, pathways, and medical policies attempt to address these multiple variables in health care. But manufacturers can bring their significant credibility in clinical research and patient experience to identify, define, and demonstrate the specific opportunities that optimize their drugs’ performance. They are best-suited to do so, and the customers are receptive to that type of message. (Note: as this heads to posting, 2 manufacturers are reported to have taken this approach and are studying their oncology drugs in combination.[6])

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

Footnotes:

1. Super Spending: US trends in high-cost medication use. May 2015. http://lab.express-scripts.com/insights/drug-options/super-spending-US-trends-in-high-cost-medication-use. Accessed May 19, 2015.

2. Growth of patients with $50K annual drug tabs skyrockets. Fierce HealthFinance. May 17, 2015. http://www.fiercehealthfinance.com/story/growth-patients-50k-annual-drug-tabs-skyrockets/2015-05-17). Accessed May 19, 2015.

3. Gilead’s $1,000 Pill Is Hard for States to Swallow. The Wall Street Journal. April 8, 2015. http://www.wsj.com/articles/gileads-1-000-hep-c-pill-is-hard-for-states-to-swallow-1428525426. Accessed May 21, 2015.

4. High Cost of Sovaldi Hepatitis C Drug Prompts a Call to Void Its Patents. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/20/business/high-cost-of-hepatitis-c-drug-prompts-a-call-to-void-its-patents.html. Accessed May 20, 2015.

5. Merriam-Webster Online. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/synergy. Accessed May 21, 2015.

6. AstraZeneca and Lilly to test new cancer drug combination. Reuters. May 29, 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/29/us-astrazeneca-eli-lilly-cancer-idUSKBN0OE0HU20150529. Accessed May 29, 2015.

Also posted in clinical trials, Data, Education, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Medical Education, Pharmaceutical, Science, Strategy, Technology | Tagged | Comments closed
Apr8

An Observer’s View of the Cancer Wars

Cancer Word Cloud BlogWith the National Cancer Act of 1971, President Nixon officially declared that the US was at war with cancer. The goal of this war is to defeat cancer as a major cause of death through a better understanding of cancer biology and the development of more effective treatments.

In the 40+ years since the act’s inception, how much progress have we actually made?

Cancers overall still remain a major cause of death, however significant progress has been made in early detection, prevention and treatment:

• In December 2014, the American Cancer Society reported a 22% drop in cancer mortality over the last two decades, with a corresponding increase in the survival rate of all cancers in both men and women
• The completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 made it possible to test the value of genomic approaches and identify underlying genetic changes that lead to cancers
• Emerging data since 2003 have significantly changed the way cancers are researched and have led to the development of new diagnostics, therapies, preventive measures, and early detection
• Research direction is currently focused on combining new compounds and diagnostics to help increase efficacy and reduce toxicity through the use of agents that target specific tumor pathways most relevant to a patient’s own disease
• Scientific advances in treatment have also been born out of our growing ability to harness the immune system to fight cancer

These scientific discoveries have led to a shift from an organ-based to a molecular-based approach, and the results are already having a profound impact on the way cancer is being treated and treatments are being personalized to patients. Personalized medicine is an ideal that is driving much of the future of cancer research. The hope is that tailoring treatment to patients’ individual needs based on their genetic data will improve outcomes and reduce adverse side effects. With our increasing knowledge of the human genome, this is steadily becoming a real possibility, and the advent of immuno-oncology brings another layer of individualized therapy into the clinic.

While many battles against cancers have been hard fought and won on several fronts, the “cure” to cancers still seems elusive, largely because cancer is a cluster of many diseases. Looking to the future, one of our greatest challenges may be translating our recent discoveries into treatments that address patients’ individual mutation profiles and truly treat the patient instead of the disease.

One of our biggest questions may be whether our healthcare system can afford the cost of “high-quality” cancer care. Most likely the answer will be no, but to address this challenge, the onus will be on the healthcare community (providers, payers, insurers) to determine how we will use our growing understanding of individualized cancer therapy to advance the quality and effectiveness of cancer care.

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

Also posted in Culture, Efficacy, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Pharmaceutical, Research | Tagged , | Comments closed
Feb6

Expensive medicines and where it’s all going?

Aussie Blog Image2The Australian Commonwealth spending on PBS drugs is currently around $9 billion AUD per annum.  It is forecast to be over $15 billion by 2023. We are seeing this upward trend due to the increasing incidence of chronic illnesses and conditions, the ageing population of Australia and the cost of new PBS medications.

We know the hurdle to getting drugs listed on the PBS is higher than ever.  But when they get listed why are these medications so expensive for governments and should we listen to those criticising the Pharmaceutical Companies who discover, commercialise and manufacturer these medications?

Bruce Booth wrote an interesting article recently on Forbes.com where he looked at two very different calculations around the total cost of drug development.  All things equal, and dipping into a Tufts Centre for the Study for Drug Development, it looks like the cost is now upwards on $2 billion USD per drug.  That’s huge by anyones standards.  But consider the journey to approval.

  • It takes an average of 10 years to bring a discovery to the approval stage.
  • Only 8% of drug candidates make it from discovery to the market – and that’s regulatory approval not reimbursement.  Reimbursement is a further stumbling block.
  • The cost of failures is the largest part of the overall cost in this analysis.

70% of the calculated cost of developing a new drug is that cost associated with the failures along the way. In a good article, Booth suggests we need to do things better, faster and cheaper.

I tend to agree. New technologies and the digital world we live in should mean we can share new information, new clinical data and new treatments more rapidly. Most products in the drug-pipeline are now complex, highly technical and often target new pathways and therefor HCPs will need to have a more in-depth understanding of the mechanism of action and science behind these innovative compounds and classes of drugs.

The other question is how can the ‘Big Data’ we keep reading about help us develop the right products for the right patients in a healthcare landscape that is constantly changing and evolving?  A load of patient, HCP and product data itself won’t help us.  We need to be able to analyse and sift through it to find meaningful truths and insights that change the way we develop and commercialise new medicines.  This will make a difference.

 

Originally published on Ogilvy CommonHealth Australia’s blog: http://www.ogilvycommonhealth.com.au/blog

 

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

Also posted in behavior change, clinical trials, Culture, Data, Health & Wellness, Managed Care, medical affairs, Pharmaceutical, Science | Comments closed
Oct17

At Face Value

At Face Value ImageThe recent 60 Minutes episode on the “eye popping” cost of cancer drugs painted pharmaceutical manufacturers and community oncologists as greedy scoundrels only interested in making huge profits at the expense of desperate cancer patients.

Reporter Lesley Stahl keyed in on a common target in the debate over rising healthcare costs—drug price, and a new term being used by oncologists: “financial toxicity.”  The program singled out ziv-aflibercept (Sanofi-Aventis) as a high-priced agent for metastatic colorectal cancer that cut its price in half only after three doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering wrote a negative op-ed article in the New York Times suggesting that manufacturers determine drug prices similar to how one shops in a Turkish bizarre.

To emphasize the industry’s greed, the producers highlighted imatinib (Novartis), and although they acknowledged it was indeed a true advance in the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia when it was approved, they chose to focus only on how the price has more than tripled over the past decade despite the availability of several newer, more effective treatment options.

Media coverage like this, along with ongoing policy discussions, continue to focus on whether the cost of new cancer therapies is putting urgently needed, life-saving therapy out of the reach of patients.

The Personal Side

Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide supports a number of organizations, including a number focused on cancer and oncology patients. One such nonprofit is the Cancer Research Institute (CRI), an organization founded in 1953 and dedicated to harnessing the power of the body’s own immune system to conquer cancer. Through their efforts, and the efforts of other institutions like them, a promising new class of therapy called immune-oncology (IO) has emerged.

Think about that—over six decades of research, funding, clinical trials, and education has led to some of today’s most promising IO agents. I imagine there are a lot of lost bets along the way; despite the millions of dollars that go into the research and development of new cancer treatments, only 13% of all compounds in development are ever approved for use in patients.1

But through the perseverance, commitment and investment of many, including the pharmaceutical manufacturers, what today is a reality would not have been possible.

I had the opportunity to attend CRI’s annual event and had the pleasure of meeting many post doc fellows and researchers, and I can assure you the value they saw in their work was not the profit their research would have for their companies, but the life-saving impact it would have for patients urgently awaiting new treatments.

One such person I met at the CRI event was “Sue,” a young woman recently married and living with a rare form of cancer (angiosarcoma) diagnosed in less than 300 people per year. She told me about how appreciative she was of the funding from CRI, manufacturers, and industry to the work she was doing and the hope that she’ll one day play a role in helping cure people like herself living with a deadly form of cancer.

Which made me think… If manufacturers and nonprofit organizations like CRI did not sustain the commitment and investment (in the billions) in search of new therapies, including areas of rare disease, what would become of patients like Sue, without the combined efforts and commitment of these institutions?

The Flip Side

So today, patients are being asked to absorb a larger portion of their prescription costs as a result of more aggressive payer cost management and growing pressure on healthcare budgets overall.

However, it’s important to recognize the overall savings to the system cannot be recognized in terms of savings for a patient individually. And the true value of cancer medicines goes well beyond the cost of a particular drug.

R&D of novel treatments has the potential to not only help patients today, but also provide longer-term value by investing in therapies for tomorrow. By limiting our view to a short-term cost savings approach, the potential to develop new, innovative treatment approaches, like IO, may never occur.

So when considering the price of drugs, remember this reflects the cost and risk of medicine development, the complexity inherent in treating cancer, as well as value to the patient, the healthcare system, and to society. So don’t take price at face value!

The Rest of the Story

So while the producers of 60 Minutes focused solely on the “devastating” side effect of cancer (the bill), a far worse side effect would be if manufacturers chose to cut the amount (billions) they now invest at risk to commercialize new therapies. This would be especially detrimental in rare disease areas like angiosarcoma, where the investment will outweigh the profit—and ultimately the patient would have the most to lose.

Through an environment and policy framework incentivizing and rewarding research, a healthy competitive environment will pave the way for new advances so desperately needed, and everyone benefits.

One thing is for certain, the path forward should focus on continued (albeit targeted) investments, improving access to these important oncolytic advances, development of biosimilars, and for crying out loud, doing a better job communicating the value proposition (aka, demonstrate product value) of emerging therapies to providers, payers AND patients.

Reference: 1. DiMasi A, Reichert JM, Feldman L, Malins A. Clinical approval success rates for investigational cancer drugs. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2013;9(13):329-335.

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

Also posted in Culture, Health & Wellness, medical affairs, Medical Education, Patient Communications | Tagged | Comments closed
Sep23

Access to High-Cost Medications: A Balancing Act

UKBlogImageSmallAs continuing innovation moves us further toward personalized healthcare and the development of targeted treatments, how can patients across Europe ensure they have fair access to high-cost medications?

Securing reimbursement remains one of the biggest challenges to delivering market access for new treatments. The debate around balancing tight health budgets with fair access for patients is shaping the way governments and payers respond to these advancements. Cancer treatments are a specific concern, especially those designed to target rare and aggressive cancers, and as such have a particularly high development cost per patient.

So what’s the way forward?

This was the question posed by the Ogilvy Healthworld UK Market Access team earlier this summer when we brought together a panel of leading experts in front of an audience of industry figures, academics and patient representatives.

The panelists discussed the issue from the viewpoint of each of the 4P’s of healthcare—payers, prescribers, policymakers and patients—to chart out the future course of reimbursement.

What was the outcome?

After a far-ranging debate, five key ideas stood out as important for taking the conversation on the introduction of high-cost medicine ahead:

1. While schemes like the UK Cancer Drugs Fund have been a success, they may prove unsustainable in the long term. New systems to assess and support the uptake of new treatments must be a national priority.

2. Three key areas that will affect the cost of medication over the next decade are:

– Technological development; as new innovations make treatments more expensive, not cheaper

– How care is delivered; and potential cost-savings that can be made in reforming healthcare systems

– Whether health systems can reform the way that healthcare is funded to support uptake of new technology

3. New treatments will not necessarily lead to cost-efficiencies, but rather higher costs for payers. This means that demand and pricing must be controlled to maintain a healthy balance between supporting innovation and ensuring access to new medicines for patients.

4. Current value assessments are too narrow and need to be reformed to better reflect their full value. As newer medicines that raise costs are developed, a more complex assessment model will be necessary to ensure that their total cost/ benefit to the healthcare system can be successfully mapped.

5. If payers are to be able to afford new high-cost medicines, cost-efficiencies must be found in the delivery of services. Although healthcare systems should remain a center of healthcare delivery across Europe, it was agreed that the way they operate must fundamentally change to provide care in the most effective way possible. This should be focused on reducing hospital visits and supporting “community-based care” systems.

 

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

Also posted in Access, Culture, Fair Balance, Health & Wellness, International, medical affairs, Pharmaceutical, Technology | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed
Jul16

“It’s not a tumor!” Cyberchondria and the Diagnoses That Spawn From It

2287994It’s 7 am; I’ve just awoken. My eyes are adjusting and I’m sprawled in my bed. My mind is not coordinated enough to move my body. Man, I am exhausted, I think. How is it only Thursday? My head kinda hurts. Good God I have to pee. I could probably snooze for like fifteen more minutes, if I shower quickly. Seriously, my head hurts. Right in my left temple. I must have slept wrong. I don’t remember hitting my head or anything. I sit up abruptly. Oh Lord now I’m dizzy. I’m dizzy and I have a sharp pain in my temple. Holy crap what if it’s a tumor, or an aneurism. When I did those brain cancer interviews last year they all said they woke up with headaches. This is that exact same situation. Where’s my iPhone? How do you spell meningioma, two “n”s? No, one “n.” Thanks Google. Okay WebMD…signs and symptoms…yup, here it is. Headache: check. Dizziness: check. Weakness in arms and legs: now that you mention it, I can barely hold this phone it feels so heavy. Blurred vision: that one’s probably next. Yup. It’s definitely a meningioma. I should call my dad. Just tell him I love him.

But just as Arnold said, it’s not a tumor. And while that example might be a tad exaggerated, I’ve certainly had this type of half-awake, neurotic, cyberchondria once or twice in my life. Though the above situation was more likely caused by one too many glasses of wine and a refusal to admit to a hangover.

Nevertheless, the concept of self-diagnosis is an ever-growing phenomenon in this digital age. According to a survey conducted by The Pew Research Center, over 35% of Americans in 2012 had gone online to diagnose themselves, and more than a third never confirmed that diagnosis with a doctor. What’s worse: some 30% of self-diagnosed women have admitted to purchasing and consuming medication for their supposed illness, without a consultation. That’s the part that shocks me. Sure, I might convince myself I have a pet-dander allergy, but that does not mean I trust my diagnostic abilities enough to assault my leg up with an EpiPen.

But it does happen. And those working in the healthcare industry appear to be the worst culprits—after all, we live and breathe this stuff; it shouldn’t be hard to tell if we have chronic migraines, or insomnia, or endocarditis, right? Our increased level of knowledge mixed with a splash of arrogance is just enough to convince us that there is little a PCP’s gonna tell us that we don’t already know.

And while the hyperbolic, often terminal, self-diagnoses are more my style, physicians say they are more concerned with the prevalence of under-diagnosis among systematic Googlers—as we all know, convincing oneself that a rash is just a rash, or numbness is just an innocent side effect can have irreparable effects.

Now, I’m a huge proponent of self-education and using today’s technology to our advantage—in fact, I think it sparks productive dialogue when information is brought into the doctor’s office—but as cliché as it sounds, I cannot emphasize enough the need for a professional diagnostic assessment. Trust me; the $15 copay is worth it.

Think of it this way: your doctor is your agency of record, but for some reason, you’ve decided to do your own brand website, aka diagnosis. We all know from AOR experience that your doctor is going to take one look at that diagnosis and say, “Damn, this is a mess; I wish they’d just paid me to do it.”

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at
blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

Also posted in behavior change, Digital, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Medical Education, Patient Communications, Self-monitoring, Technology | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed
May20

Bringing Sexy Back…to Science

disease managementThank God for The Big Bang Theory. They’ve made it cool to be a nerd again.

While traditional brand attributes (efficacy, safety, dosing, etc) will always be of key importance, the last few years have seen a renaissance of scientific enlightenment as physicians across disciplines take a closer look at not only how well a drug works, but why it works.

With the advent of new targeted agents in oncology and virology, mechanism of action quickly went from a dirty little secret buried in the PI to front page news. There are now numerous products that have built their entire value proposition on mechanism of action.

In oncology in particular, where clinical improvement between new and old drugs is often measured in teaspoons, the science behind the brand can often stand as a key differentiator. Avastin—one of the most successful drugs in oncology—created a simple scientific rationale for its use: stop cancer cells from creating new blood vessels and “starve the tumor.” With three simple words they took a complex process of tumor growth and development and created a unique opportunity in oncology that they have effectively owned since its launch in 2004.

Science Sells

The ongoing race toward “scientific innovation” is redefining how we market specialty brands.

  • Have a good pick-up line: In specialty marketing an entirely new nomenclature has spawned, significantly impacting our ability to change physicians’ perceptions of our brand. Simple terms to describe the science have now become synonymous with clinical attributes we could otherwise never say in a branded way. “Targeted” or “selective” now means safe and well-tolerated, “multi-functional” equals efficacious. Understanding how one simple word can affect how physicians view your brand is now key, requiring comprehensive research and knowledge of the market.
  • Be yourself and if that doesn’t work be someone better: No longer content to be classified under traditional terms, products have been using science to create entire “new” drug classes. Avastin rebranded themselves from a VEGF inhibitor to an “anti-angiogenic,” and DDP-4 was redefined as an “incretin degradation inhibitor” in type 2 diabetes.
  • Dress to impress: Where once MOA materials were simply required to be informative, now visually dynamic and digitally distinct tactical initiatives have quickly become a cost of entry for products seeking to separate themselves from the competition.

And while I can say with absolute certainty that an in-depth knowledge of molecular drivers of cancer will not help you talk to girls at parties, understanding the science behind the brands and their competitors is now crucial to opening up new doors for creative exploration, messaging and differentiation in specialty marketing.

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

Also posted in behavior change, Content Strategy, copywriting, Creativity, Data, Efficacy, Healthcare Communications, Learning, Marketing, Pharmaceutical, Physician Communications, positioning, Science, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed
May1

Oncologists to Initiate Discussion Around Value

money stethoscopeEarlier this month a new initiative was announced to encourage oncologists to discuss the price and relative value of cancer medicines with their patients. No, this was not driven by executive fiat as part of the ACA, nor is it the brainchild of an insurance carrier. Instead, it comes from the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, or ASCO, the professional organization for oncologists and publisher of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, among other titles.

ASCO has formed working groups that will weigh efficacy, side effects and price to help better define the value of oncology medicines. Initially these groups will look at treatments for advanced lung and prostate cancer and for multiple myeloma, said Richard Schilsky, the group’s chief medical officer.

This comes a little less than a year after Scott Ramsey from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle published a study suggesting that individuals with a cancer diagnosis were 2.5 times more likely to file for bankruptcy compared to a matched control group.

Not unlike hepatitis C, the price of therapy in oncology is a hot topic, as 11 of the 12 cancer drugs approved by the FDA in 2012 were priced at more than $100,000 per year.

To date, ASCO and another group, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), have published treatment guidelines that payers use as the basis for reimbursement coverage of cancer drugs, but these guidelines have been value-agnostic, meaning the price of the drug has had little or nothing to do with strong category recommendations. ASCO’s move could change this.

So how could this impact our clients’ business?

·         Pharma has traditionally had to defend ultra-premium pricing only to payers, who, in many cases, were/are legally obligated to cover the costs, at least for Medicare/Medicaid patients.  Broadening this conversation to include HCPs and patients could affect overall product positioning, messaging and channel strategy.

·         Manufacturers need to rethink how they approach the value section of the AMCP dossier as they submit these to payers as the way payers (public or private) are assessing value will change.  The dossier must also be consistent with value messages to non-payer audiences.

·         With compensation models for oncologists already shifting from “buy and bill” to “pay for quality,” these ASCO value ratings could further aid in the rapid adoption of biosimilars and generic targeted small molecules that will begin hitting the market in the next few years.

·         To the ire of many payers, pharma has been able to mitigate some financial barriers to obtaining therapy through the use of co-pay cards and other assistance programs. If the conversation turns from out-of-pocket costs to “costs to society,” demonstrating meaningful value will be of paramount importance to brands.

·         Dialogue studies in this category suggest sometimes broken dialogue between HCPs, cancer patients, and their caregivers. Layering on a discussion about the value of a drug could add to the confusion. As oncologists experiment with this new value lexicon, it could create an opportunity for brands to take a leadership role in framing the value discussion.

Historically in the US, positioning a drug on “value” has been akin to admitting your brand does not offer a meaningful advantage over existing therapy options. Will this nascent movement result in opportunities for value-based oncology brands? Only time will tell, but in the meantime rethinking how we articulate value is more important than ever.

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

Also posted in Data, Healthcare Communications, Pharmaceutical, positioning, Research, Statistics | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed